There is a wide variety of different real money slot machines to be found at online and land-based casinos. At land-based properties, you might find Class II, Class III or Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) slot machines. You’ll find them in denominations ranging from one cent to one hundred dollars (or more). While most slot machines now have video display terminals you can still find some with the ‘old fashioned’ analog reels. And, of course, you’ll find machines featuring a countless array of themes including TV shows, movies, sports–even commercial products like Tabasco Sauce.

Even with all of this variety every machine regardless of type, denomination, technology or theme falls into one of two jackpot categories: progressive or non-progressive. Some slot machine players don’t give this a second thought but in reality, it’s one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a slot player. Each offers advantages and disadvantages and depending on your risk tolerance and style of play one might be a better fit than the other.

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It’s easy to understand the two different types of slot machine jackpots. We’ll start with progressive jackpots. A progressive jackpot is a jackpot that is not ‘fixed’ at a certain amount or number credits. A progressive jackpot will increase as players bet with a specific machine or group of machines either in the same casino (referred to as a ‘bank’ of machines) In many cases, the progressive jackpot will be shared among a group of affiliated casinos (these are called ‘networked’ jackpots). The very popular ‘Megabucks’ machines found in many Nevada casinos are an example of a ‘networked progressive jackpot’. The jackpot grows as players all over the state play until the jackpot reaches the millions of dollars. Once someone hits the jackpot the process begins anew and the jackpot is reset. In fact, the starting amount of a progressive jackpot is referred to as the ‘reset’.

A non-progressive jackpot is simply a jackpot that is fixed at a specific amount. For example, many slot machines use the traditional slot symbols like ‘cherries’ ‘bars’ and the ‘big 7’. A jackpot on this type of machine might be 5,000 coins for three 7’s (7-7-7). Slot machines with non-progressive jackpots are of a more traditional design and the top jackpot never changes no matter how many times its hit. Most of the newer slot machines offer progressive jackpots for a variety of reasons–not the least of which is the longer odds involved with hitting this type of jackpot.


There are good reasons for playing each type of jackpot and the answer all depends on what type of gambler you are. If you want to stretch your wagering bankroll to afford you as long of a playing session as possible you’ll want to look for machines with non-progressive jackpots. It’s a very simple dynamic–non-progressive machines offer better odds of winning than non-progressive machines. The trade-offs is that the jackpots are substantially smaller. You’ll hit the top prizes on a non-progressive machine more often but it’ll be for a substantially smaller amount than a progressive jackpot. For example, a top jackpot on a non-progressive slot machine might be a few thousand dollars. Not a bad payoff at all, but not exactly ‘life-changing’.

On the other hand, if you’re the type of gambler that is looking for a ‘big score’ and doesn’t care about extending your wagering dollar you should play progressive jackpot slot machines. The top slot machine jackpots in Nevada history have all been on progressive slot machines (and more specifically on the aforementioned ‘Megabucks’ machines). The top jackpots on these machines are hit significantly less often but the potential winnings can be awe-inspiring ranging from a few hundred thousand to millions of dollars. The base jackpot on the Megabucks machines is $10 million and several jackpots have been hit for in excess of $30 million.